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My Paris - From a Woman's Point of View

Linda Donahue is the founder and Editor in Chief of, an online destination magazine and travel planner for Paris. You can follow her on twitter @parisiensalon. We asked Linda to tell us what advice she'd give to girlfriends travelling to Paris. Here are her terrific tips...

I’ve always found Paris to be one of the easiest places to be as a solo woman traveler. Perhaps that’s because Parisians are as accessible as you want them to be. If you want to be on your own, they respect your privacy. If you want conversation, they’re ready to banter, debate or share a good story.

The same holds true for where you decide to stay. If you want to experience Paris like a Parisian, stay in a vacation apartment. I personally recommend
You can cook your own meals (or invite friends over to share a meal or a bottle of wine). With all of the wonderful street markets (rue Cler and rue Mouffetard) and epicuries (like my favorite at Le Bon Marche), you’ll enjoy the most wonderfully fresh food you’ve likely ever prepared.
If you want to meet people and perhaps find sightseeing companions, stay in a small hotel. During my visits to the Hotel Valadon (a 12-room hotel in the 7th), I would strike up the most wonderful conversations with fellow travelers as well as the owners at breakfast in the small dining room lounge. I still take annual walks with a woman I met there years ago. Website:
Cafés are also a great place for women travelers. Not only is the food there less expensive, but cafés are a great place to eat on your own with a good book for company. My personal favorite is the Café du Marché on rue Cler 38 and rue du Champ de Mars in the 7th. When I want a bigger menu selection, I head next door to Tribeca, a restaurant popular with the locals that serves up delicious food. Further down the rue is a creperie that's perfect for a meal on the run or a dessert treat (I love their crêpe Nutella).



My favorite restaurant in Paris isLe Restaurant on rue Veron in Montmartre. The food in this mostly-locals restaurant is exceptional, and it's far enough off the tourist path to remain a secret (until now). For something a little "clubier" and a bit pricey I like Kong Paris on rue de Pont Neuf. The food is surprisingly good for such a trendy destination (if you watched Sex in the City when Carrie went to Paris, you've seen this restaurant). At night, the club comes alive with chic Parisians and lounge music.

Paris has, of course, some of the best shopping in the world. If you’re looking for sales, then you need to plan your trip around the biannual “soldes.” Because sales are state-regulated in France, there are two sale periods each year: summer and winter. Each runs about six weeks. The summer soldes typically start at the end of June, while the winter soldes begin in January.
Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann is a shopping mecca, offering 10 floors of clothing, accessories, jewelry, food and home goods. Even if you're not looking to go shopping, just standing on the bottom floor and looking up to the stunning Art Nouveau dome will give you great satisfaction. Actually, there are three Galeries Lafayette to explore here: the main store, the men's store (Lafayette Homme) - which also houses Lafayette Gourmet - and the home store (Lafayette Maison), all wrapping around Place Diaghilev across from the Opera Garnier. You'll also find a rather large assortment of restaurants, wine bars and tea salons inside the stores, so you really can make a whole day of it.
Merci, Paris' newest concept store, offers a breathtaking space where you can shop with a conscience. Merci donates all of its profits to a co-op for young women in Madagascar. They stock everything from clothes to flowers and garden accessories, to perfumes, custom furniture, home goods and second-hand books. Much of the clothing on sale (from brands like Bonpoint, A.P.C., Isabel Marent, YSL and Chloe) has been created and priced exclusively for Merci. Address: 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais - 3rd. Tel : 00 33 1 42 77 00 33. Open daily Monday to Saturday 10am-8pm Metro Saint Sébastien Froissard.



Unlike the U.S., France doesn't have discount drugstores (or even large drugstore chains). City Pharma (26, rue du Four in the 6th) offers 30 to 40 percent off most popular brands. That means you can stock up on your favorite French and European labels like Weleda, Biotherm, Roc, Caudalie, Phyto, Vichy, Bioderma, Roger et Gallet ... and even American brands like Neutrogena and John Frieda.

While we are talking 'beauty' and 'travel' you can even get a taste of Marrakech while visiting a Paris hammam. A twenty-minute metro ride to the posh Paris suburb of Boulogne takes you to Les Cent Ciels where for 40 euros, you have access to the hamman, sauna, relaxation lounges, restaurant and pool. Extra services include gommage, massage and facials. P.S. Most of the time, Les Cent Ciels (meaning '100 skies') is exclusively for women, but some evenings and Sundays are co-ed.
Paris is also home to the largest flea market in the world at the Porte de Clignancourt, Les Puces de Saint-Ouen (“Les Puces”). With more than 17 acres (or 7 hectares), Les Puces is an all-day (or all-weekend) affair, and it can be overwhelming. You may want to consider hiring someone to take you through the market (or risk getting lost). Les Puces is open Saturdays (8:30am to 6:30pm), Sundays (10am to 6:30pm) and Mondays (10:30am to 5:30pm). Less intimidating is the Vanves flea market, which is open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 7am to 2pm.

Editor's Note: Beware of pickpockets at all markets. They know that when you are busy shopping you are a perfect target.


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